So, it turns out that it takes more two former flopped semi-professional players and a trace of disillusionment was all Uganda had to uplift he moral of a mediocre attendance in the Mandela National Stadium Namboole as Uganda Cranes were held to a goalless stalemate by Rwanda in an international friendly on Saturday evening.
And as the fans sadly left the an almost empty Stadium, here was a sobering reminder that decent results against Botswana, Angola, Liberia and unnecessary defeats to Egypt will not alone equip Micho Sredojevic’s team for the tests which lie ahead in the Confederation of East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup and the 2014 South Africa CHAN tournaments.
Rwanda arrived at Namboole in splendid form with an admirably competitive attitude towards this friendly, and they stretched Uganda. With a slightly similar shape and style, they were slick and fluent, strong and quick.
Over the years, including the previous meeting between the two sides that ended in a 2-2 draw in February, Rwanda have exhibited finesse and incisive movement on and off the ball, and Cranes ought to fall back when without possession.
Rwanda broke up play on the sly, happy to commit a foul if it prevented Micho’s men gathering momentum on the break and this frustration ate away at those in red shirts.
Moreover, Amavubi proved they have a balanced and talented team and this was a reality check, even with the mitigation of an experimental side including Oscar Agaba and Ayubu Kisalita.
Perhaps, that will not be considered a bad thing by the Serbian coach and his local assistants, but he will not have enjoyed the boring game which accompanied the final whistle from those who had not bolted early for the Kireka taxis.
Kiira Young’s Richard Kassaga played the full 90 minutes and finished the game wearing the captain’s armband when FUFA Super league table leaders expected him to have his feet up by that stage of the evening.
As he looked on and digested only his first draw in11 games in the job, Micho rarely looked at ease. He spent much of the first half hopping around his technical area with his two assistant Fred Kajoba and Kefa Kisala shouting orders alongside him, imploring his players to squeeze higher up the pitch, and most of the second sunk in his seat with a sour look on his face.
On an evening when he would have hoped to see just a glimmer of encouragement, that he had unearthed something new and exciting to fuel his thoughts over the Cecafa starts less than a fortnight in Nairobi and the two teams will be pleased with the timing of the friendly as they have been paired in Group C for the regional event., he saw nothing but the worst of Uganda.
“The result is not what we (Uganda) as a team hoped for. I gave every player a chance to how show me they deserve inclusion in the CECAFA and CHAN teams but we never got a good result,” Micho exclaimed in the post-match press conference.
“The draw is not good enough and this means we have to work hard ahead of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup,” added Micho. His counterpart Eric Nshimiyimana said it was a good game.
Micho has not only managed football institutions in both countries, but closely worked with players from both nations.
The Amavubi side played a better game in the first half while the absence of injured attacking midfielder Dennis Iguma was very evident as they lacked the creativity. Rwanda skipper Haruna Niyonzima had the chance to give his team the lead in the first half, but shot wide with Ugandan goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan already beaten.
Uganda-born striker Meddie Kagere was also wasteful for Rwanda on two occasions where scoring looked simple. Striker Emmanuel Okwi also did not have a very good game as the Rwanda defenders kept a close watch on him. In the second half after the introduction of Frank Kalanda for Uganda, the Cranes pushed more, but still lacked the killer punch.
Rwanda goalie, Luc Ndayishimye, a suprise start ahead of the veteran Jean Claude Ndori in the goal posts was kept busy thanks to winger Vincent Kayizzi’s endless crosses, many of which the day’s skipper, Emma Okwi put to waste.
Both coaches had plenty of options available on the bench which they arduously brought forth changes in the second half.
But was it worth listening to the Cranes tactician when he argued that Saturday’s explosive friendly fixture between Uganda and Rwanda could be decided by his own marksman Emmanuel Okwi rather than the Ugandan born Meddie Kagere in the Amavubi ranks?
But both seemed dismissal with Okwi occasionally dropping deep into the midfield to pick the ball and later waste opportunities alongside showy KCCA winger Brian Majwega.
“My boys had chances to score, but where not sharp,” said Nshimiyimana a former Rwandeses International midfielder. It was the first time Uganda coach Micho was facing his former team Rwanda whom he left in May this year.
“Playing against Rwanda is basically facing a team that I know so well, but that will even make the game more explosive because they will also want to prove a point to the former coach,” the Serb had expressed before kickoff.
“We knew, we are going to play with a good Ugandan side that has an excellent home record in Namboole, but we tried to score goals and defend well too,” admitted the Amavubi coach.
Nshimiyimana said the game helped the Amavubi players to build their fitness and mental strength ahead of the Cecafa tournament..
“We are a team and we know that we have to work together if we want to achieve our objective to do well in the CECAFA and other competitions,” he explained.
But rather it will be interesting to see how URA’s Oscar Agaba performed against Rwanda’s muscular midfield. He inadvertently carried on an odd tradition by wearing No 6 against Rwanda on his debut and showed a lot of promise covering up hardworking Iceland based Uganda midfielder Tony Mawejje.
It gave the result the emphatic feel it deserved and produced an identical result to the last time Rwanda were at Namboole against Uganda, also when there was an African Championship; 2004 Tunisia African Cup of Nations.
On that occasion, now 44-year-old Micho, Nshimiyimana alongside Rwandese legend Olivier Karekezi performed exceedingly well to inspire Amavubi to a 1-0 crucial away win that had Ugandan midfielder Ababukar Tabula chased around the Namboole turf by the Rwandese after he allege plucked juju from their goal post.
This time, unfortunately, the Uganda coach did not leave Namboole with anything like the same consolation when he was a simple club coach at record champions SC Villa.
Cecafa starts on November 27 in Nairobi and the two teams will be pleased with the timing of the friendly as they have been paired in Group C for the regional event.
Eritrea and Sudan are the other teams in the group but the Rwanda-Uganda clash will no doubt be the most anticipated considering their entertaining show in the 2011 Cecafa final which ended with the latter winning 3-2 on spot-kicks after a 2-all regulation time draw.
Head to head Matches 30
Uganda wins – 12
Rwanda wins – 9
Draws – 11
Uganda losses – 9
Rwanda losses – 11
Current Fifa rank
Uganda – 85
Rwanda – 129
Kenya, Ethiopia, Zanzibar and South Sudan
Tanzania, Zambia, Burundi and Somalia
Uganda, Rwanda, Eritrea and Sudan
06.02.2013: RWA 2-2 UGA – friendly
10.12.2011: RWA 2-2 UGA, 2-3 via penalties – Cecafa final
13.12.2009: UGA 2-0 RWA – Cecafa final
01.01.2009: UGA 4-0 RWA – Cecafa group
20.12.2007: UGA 0-1 RWA – Cecafa semis
Uganda Cranes:Benjamin Ochan (Goal Keeper), Nicholas Wadada, Godfrey Walusimbi, Savio Kabugo, Richard Kassaga, Oscar Agaba, Ayubu Kisalita, Vicent Kayizzi, Brian Majwega, Joseph Mpande, Emma Okwi.
Rwanda Amavubi StarsLuc Ndayishimye (Goal Keeper), Emery Bayisenge, Fitina Omuburenga, Solomon Nirisarike, Batiste Mugiraneza, Jean Iranze, Haruna Niyonzima, Mohammeed Mughniyimana, Mwemere Ngirishuti, Meddi Kagere and Jacques Tuyisenge.
|1’ – Game has kicked off.|
|2’ – Not a very big crowd at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole. The last time the two sides faced-off in a friendly in February in Kigli, the game ended 2-2.|
|12’ – Uganda Cranes pressing to get an early goal.|
|16’ – Cranes get a chance, but fail to capitalize on it.|
|17’ – Cranes goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan parries away a well taken Batiste Mugiraneza free kick.|
|18’ – Uganda Cranes get a corner.|
|23’ – Corner for Rwanda.|
|25’ – Uganda 0 Rwanda 0.|
|26’ – Jean Claude Iranzi (Rwanda) is cautioned.|
|32’ – Still a balanced game here 0-0.|
|35’ – Rwanda miss a good scoring chance through Iranzi.|
|38’ – Emmanuel Okwi fails to slot in a well taken Vincent Kayizzi cross for Uganda.|
|44’ – Rwanda goalkeeper gets treatment after a knock.|
|45’ – It’s 3 minutes of added time here and Uganda get a corner.|
|45 + 3’ – The referee brings the first half to an end.|
|46’ – Second half kicks off.|
|46’ – Uganda’s goalkeeper saves a well taken Meddie Kagere header.|
|50’ – Uganda Cranes survive yet another attack at goal.|
|55’ – Emmanuel Okwi blast wide for Uganda.|
|59’ – The game becomes more lively with both teams in search of goals.|
|62’ – Meddie Kagere’s shot misses the target for Rwanda.|
|64’ – Uganda Substitution: Muwadda Mawejje replaces Nicholas Wadada|
|64’ – Uganda Substitution: Isaac Muleme replaces Vincent Kayizi|
|72’ – Game still 0-0. Uganda get corner.|
|79’ – Uganda Substitution: Dan Nsubuga replaces Brian Majwega|
|82’ – (Rwanda) Jimmy Mbaraga in for Meddie Kagere, Fabrice Twagimana in for Batiste Mugiraneza.|
|82’ – With Uganda’s goalkeeper beaten Jimmy Mbaraga shot is wide|
|86’ – Uganda Substitution: Yasser Mugerwa replaces Emmanuel Okwi|
|88’ – Rwanda Substitution: Andrew Buteera replaces Mohamed Mushimiyima|
|90’ – It’s 3 minutes of added time.|
|90 + 3’ – The referee blows the whistle for Full Time.|